What the Local Supermarket Taught me About Making Money Online

by Alex on November 3, 2010 · 58 comments

how to upsell successfully on your blog -make money online

My wife recently went to the local supermarket to pickup some extra items that we were running low on, and she excitedly came back with all the ingredients required to make (what turned out to be) the most tasty Prawn, Avocado and Mango Salad.

As she entered the house she interrupted my blogging brilliance to show me a pamphlet/recipe for a – you guessed it, Prawn, Avocado and Mango Salad, telling me how she had gone to get some mangoes from the fruit section and had seen this recipe sitting quietly next to them.

Christine (my better half) had then obviously made her way through the supermarket collecting all the required ingredients to make this awesome salad, spending 8 times more money than the mango had initially cost and inadvertently becoming the victim of the subconscious upsell.

Hardly a Victim at all

The only victim here was the poor prawn, because not only did the supermarket manage to sell more product, but we the consumer thoroughly enjoyed the fruits (no pun intended) of their labour. So it got me thinking about my blog, and how I choose to monetize it.

It’s relevant if you tell them it is

The crucial lesson here is relevance and availability, because not only was the upsell highly relevant to the product being purchased, but the products being upsold where also available there too.

Kind of obvious I know, and yet some of us still choose to stick Adsense on our posts!

Upsell – and then kick them out.

Because that is what you are effectively doing by utilising any type of contextual advertising on your site. Think about it. Imagine my wife had gone to the supermarket, but they did not sell Prawns or Avocado. The pamphlet might have said something like ‘try this, but you’ll need to go to another store to get the rest of the ingredients’ What?!?!

Having Contextual ads on your site is effectively a pointless act in this case because you are going to all the effort of providing relevant upsells to them, but you are not the one who can provide those products or services?!

So what should I do different?

Tell them where to go!
I’m not suggesting that you go and create a product/service to cater for every single individual need – that’s just stupid (Actually, its brilliant, nigh impossible – No Brandon Connell, this is NOT another challenge mate) I’m simply suggesting that YOU control where you send them.

Adsense, Kontera, and other contextual based advertising programs are designed to pay you for a click, and therefore you really don’t have any say as to exactly what products you are onselling. Not only does this decrease your potential earnings, it can also reflect badly on you.

Let’s go back to the supermarket

Imagine if the pamphlet had suggested this great meal, and then advised you that the other items were not available in the store. Now, for the sake of argument, let’s pretend that the Fish shop you do eventually find is of low quality, poor service and is a little bit ‘fishier’ than necessary. You buy the prawns – and it promptly ruins the meal. Now this is not the Supermarkets fault, but you are at home – using a menu branded with the Supermarkets logo, so guess who is going to get the blame for the poor quality meal? You guessed it.

Protect your brand

This is another reason to stay clear of contextual CPC based ads and to stick with affiliate programs. Affiliate programs can be tried and tested first, so even if you can’t provide the ‘prawns’ you at least know they are going to fit nicely with your Mangoes.

  • What’s your take on this analogy?
  • Hungry?

This post is part of our amazing Blogging Contest, please add a comment and tweet it to support the author.

Tagged as: , , , , ,


Daisy November 3, 2010 at 2:41 pm

Excellent tip Alex, Really never ever thought about cpc ads like this, since we don’t know which ad is gonna be displayed so we might end up getting a bad impression from the user we refer.
Daisy @ Tinnitus Treatment´s last blog post ..Tinnitus Treatment Permanent Tinnitus Treatment updated Fri Oct 29 2010 11-57 am CDT

Alex November 4, 2010 at 2:28 am

Thanks Daisy, yeah it’s all about protecting the brand in the long run – that’s what you need to consider I guess
Alex@sydney seo services´s last blog post ..Are Your Tags Lonely Blog SEO Tips

Brandon Connell November 3, 2010 at 3:19 pm

I challenge you to a DUEL Alex. LOL. You told me earlier your post was about food and a supermarket. I thought you were gonna discuss tossing a salad ;)

But you are right. CPC can steal from you. With affiliate ads, you are recommending something. CPC does not allow that because it is just an ad which you have no control over.
Brandon Connell´s last blog post ..How to Reach Out to Your Readers

Alex November 4, 2010 at 2:27 am

Sorry to dissapoint Brandon.

Here, let me make it up to you.
Tossing a salad – the how to:
Get salad, toss it out. (As the simpsons so eloquently said “You can’t make friends with salad!”)

Thanks for the input re: CPC. I also think that in the IM niche its just a bad idea to begin with
Alex@keyword research plugin´s last blog post ..By- wp-popularcom » Blog Archive » Keyword Winner SEO Plug-in

Steve November 5, 2010 at 10:56 am

Umm think he was talking about ANOTHER type of “tossing the salad” I am too much of a gentleman to go into the meaning. But enough of a crass boor to provide a link.

Steve@Lifestyle Design Blog´s last blog post ..How Much Does it Take to Live the Lifestyle of Your Dreams

Ryan Biddulph November 3, 2010 at 3:51 pm

Hi Alex,

I enjoyed this tasty analogy. The relevancy point is money: keep your products within cyber walking distance; i.e. on your blog!

I must admit, the use of contextual ads on a blog has always seemed a little fishy to me. That’s why I took time in tossing out my line for a trusted affiliate opportunity to link up to.

Alright, I ran out of fresh fish analogies ;)

Have a great one!

Ryan Biddulph´s last blog post ..How Not to Generate Leads for Your Home Based Opportunity

Alex November 4, 2010 at 12:56 pm

Cyber walking distance!

I like that Ryan. Awesome way to turn the point of my post into a neat little idiom. Respect!

The rest of your comment is a little fishy, but it does have a certain ‘sole’ to it. :)

Thanks for stopping by man!
Alex@sydney seo services´s last blog post ..A Blogger’s 6 Biggest Time Wasters

Murlu November 3, 2010 at 11:16 pm

Yeah when you’re getting like 5c per click it’s not even really worth it – sending tons of people away for so cheap – put some good stuff on the blog and send em that way.

Alex, I’m surprised, I thought you’d live off ramen and keyword research :P – time for supermarkets?!
Murlu´s last blog post ..5 Ridiculous Myths You Actually Believe About Blogging

Alex November 4, 2010 at 2:05 am

You are right actually, which is why it was the wife that went shopping (OK I’m so going to get shot down by some random feminist for that comment LOL)

Seriously though, I’m friggin useless at the supermarket. I usually tantrum by aisle 7
Alex@keyword research plugin´s last blog post ..By- wp-popularcom » Blog Archive » Keyword Winner SEO Plug-in

Patricia November 4, 2010 at 2:36 am

Hi alex
You’re popping up on as many blogs as me these days lol Only you’re the star, I’m just on the sidelines cheering on. I know Brandon, us Aussies have to stick together. Brilliant post. Nice surprise to see you here. I don’t have any ads on my site at the moment and decided from the start no Adsense and you’ve succinctly given all the reasons why not to display them. I hate going to sites where I have to navigate through the ads to find the post! Usually bounce off as I’ve got more blogs to visit that have quality content minus those pesky ads. eventually would like to have a few that are incorporated into my blog but you know me and all things techie Alex! Will leave that till another day. Thanks for sharing.
Patricia Perth Australia
Patricia@lavenderuses´s last blog post ..Lavenders- Small Niche Big Ideas

Alex November 5, 2010 at 7:47 am

Hey Particia, thanks for all your support girl, you’re awesome.
Glad you enjoyed the post, you were one of the few who would have known what a prawn is straight away LOL.
I forgot that they are called ‘shrimps’ everywhere else.

I have been quite slack lately, because I am supposed to pop up here once a fortnight, but recent activity has kept me sidelined too.
Lucky Dev is such a legend, because he’s cool with most things.

Thanks again for the comments and support P :)
Alex@sydney seo services´s last blog post ..A Blogger’s 6 Biggest Time Wasters

Murlu November 10, 2010 at 1:26 am

I was actually going to mention prawn in my comment – what the hell Alex, get your head on straight! Haha.

Next we’ll hear posts about dingos and babies and stuff :P
Murlu´s last blog post ..How To Work 24 Hours A Day And Love Every Minute Of It

Alex November 10, 2010 at 6:21 am

LOL! part one: we ate a salad. Part two: a dingo ate my baby
Alex@sydney seo´s last blog post ..Presents for me- Presence for you

d3so November 4, 2010 at 3:11 am

Interesting point you bring up.
I kind of agree with you but I just got the ball rolling with my contextual ads.
d3so´s last blog post ..Use iPhone as A Portable Hard Drive with DiskAid

Alex November 5, 2010 at 7:50 am

Hey C3PO’s dyslexic cousin! :)

Thats awesome man, good luck with the whole thing man, love to hear back from you in the future as to how it progresses for you
Alex@BuRP seo services´s last blog post ..Are Your Tags Lonely Blog SEO Tips

Moon Hussain November 4, 2010 at 3:46 am


Yeah, CPC advertising–meh, not a fan of contextual advertising. I happen to think giving the person what they came looking for is the way to go.

So if that happens to be an affiliate product or your own–1-2 purchases and you’ll have made $1-$2 every day.

Nice post!
Moon Hussain´s last blog post ..Fun Friday Round-Up- San Diego Rocks- Literally!

Alex November 5, 2010 at 7:51 am


Don’t get me wrong, it’s great for sites where you know you can generate 1000′s of pageviews but can’t be arse providing valuable services and content, but that’s about it I say.
Alex@BuRP seo consulting´s last blog post ..A Blogger’s 6 Biggest Time Wasters

Murlu November 10, 2010 at 1:31 am

That’s how I think about things moon – I was running Adsense on one of my blogs and now switched it over only to affiliate products – even though there’s less revenue each day – it’s made up for because there is a larger purchase which equals out to a higher return over the course of the month – and you’re providing additional benefit to the end-user.
Murlu´s last blog post ..How To Work 24 Hours A Day And Love Every Minute Of It

Mike November 4, 2010 at 4:51 am

Nice one Alex :)

Every time I go the market, I notice that. It’s why people place Tortilla chips next to numerous jars of salsa haha.

Another lesson I learn while I’m shopping for food is I can observe what’s the trend now; what people are buying and would they buy more of them in the future. I applied that for back to school season and achieved some results with it haha.
Mike´s last blog post ..5 Financial &amp SEO Excel Templates That Turns Your Blogging Hobby Into Cash!

Alex November 5, 2010 at 7:53 am

Awesome Mike!

Kudos man – you action taker you! :)

Btw, thanks a lot!, now I have a craving for nachos
Alex@burp seo consulting´s last blog post ..A Blogger’s 6 Biggest Time Wasters

Thiru November 4, 2010 at 6:47 am

Excellent point Alex, I dint even think of this till now. Thanks for sharing and let me implement in future.
Thiru@webappdirectory´s last blog post ..Surcentrocom – Great way to analyze your site statistics

Alex November 5, 2010 at 7:56 am

You mean NOT implement in future ;)

Thanks for your support (as always) Thiru!
Alex@burp seo consulting´s last blog post ..A Blogger’s 6 Biggest Time Wasters

Rahul November 4, 2010 at 6:02 pm

Very nice , great tips !! Loved the analogy a lot and that was close and the examples were clear !! thank you for sharing this , i love reading about real things and your double stories were interesting ;)

Alex November 5, 2010 at 7:57 am

Awesome feedback, thanks Rahul!

I’m with you man, the more I can relate to something – the easier it becomes to grasp!

Glad you found the post helpful/interesting.
I have to admit, it is one of my favourites actually :)
Alex@burp seo consulting´s last blog post ..A Blogger’s 6 Biggest Time Wasters

Richard November 4, 2010 at 10:44 pm

Hi Alex,
Great comparison. I realized fairly early that running a blog is not much different than running a brick and mortar store. So, ideally what you want to do is give your customers some value and provide the product to the recipe that they want to cook. It didn’t make much sense to me to put up ads that just directed people to a different store. Especially when you realize that most of those ads are not to the sellers site, but some other affiliate marketer. Rather, you could market those products directly as your own affiliate products and cut out the middle man.
Richard´s last blog post ..5 Reasons to Work From Home

Alex November 5, 2010 at 8:00 am

ha! Brilliant Richard.

You make such a good point about the links being affiliate ones!
That point alone should convince others to NOT implement these types of ads.
Thanks for the value ad brother!
Alex@burp seo consulting´s last blog post ..Niche Site Challenge to the World- I mean the Moon

Steve November 5, 2010 at 11:02 am


Your example on up sell was perfect, as I am sure were your wifes Prawn and mango salad. It makes me hungry just thinking about it.

I totally agree about the problems with contextual advertising. They suck and are (practically) worthless. Your own product (with ready upsell) is best. Failing that at least an affiliate off that can give them what they want. (as you said, oh wise sage)
Steve@Lifestyle Design Blog´s last blog post ..How Much Does it Take to Live the Lifestyle of Your Dreams

Alex November 5, 2010 at 1:17 pm

My wife was sitting next to me when your comment came into my inbox. She says to say “thank you Steve, and DAMN STRAIGHT” LOL – fiesty lady.
Thanks for the value add and awesome comment Steve. One thing though…’wise sage’ Nice, but have you been drinking? ;)
Alex@burp sydney seo´s last blog post ..Niche Site Challenge Part 001 The Method in my Madness

Mirko Gosch November 5, 2010 at 11:29 am

Hey Alex,

Awesome post and a good advice for bloggers who start out and might think it is a good idea to set up CPC ads on their blog. Although I don´t think that too many bloogers do that. Most blogs I visit have a column with Banner ads and I think it is more obvious even for starters to head in that direction. The prospect of making an affiliate sale by offering complementary products and services of value is much more appealing than getting the odd and rather small fee for a CPC being clicked. Plus I don´t think that a lot of blogs have the amount of traffic needed to make CPC really work.

So, that´s my two cents on this topic, I gonna get my self a nice salad and sign off by saying that I´m mightily impressed by the constant improvements you are implementing on this blog. Looks fabulous and has a ton of value information to share. Superb, Alex, suberb!

Keep rocking the blogging scene and talk to you soon

Mirko Gosch´s last blog post ..Keyword Tool – Massive Drop in Search Volume Numbers Sends Out SEO Shockwaves

Alex November 5, 2010 at 1:20 pm

Hey Mirko!

Awesome man, thanks so much for supporting the cause and popping over with your 2 cents (more like twenty bucks mate!)
I’d love to take the kudos on the blog change, but this is Dev ‘the blogging machine Sharma’s blog, but of course you would still have said the same at my blog right? LOL

Respect Mr Golly Gosch!
Alex@sydney seo´s last blog post ..Keyword Blog Update Forward thinking and Backward Linking

Lisa Brancatisano November 5, 2010 at 12:20 pm

Hi Alex,

Great post! And eating a salad as I write this which seems appropriate!!
Thanks for writing in a language that even I, the newbie can understand! I’ve wondered what actual benefit Adsense was giving me as I search for different ways to monetize my blog! I’m going to re-think my strategy again now!

Keep the Value Posts coming!


Alex November 5, 2010 at 1:22 pm

Actually Lisa, I was just looking at your blog, and I think in your case you may be good to stay with CPC monetization tactics.
I say this because you are in a niche that is condusive to travel and lifestyle choice, as well as cooking and food in general.
This broad range of Tuscan inspired topics, combined with the massively high Costs of Adwords in Travel and Cooking ( that means more money for you ;) ) I say stay with it.

Thanks for stopping by and commenting Lisa, you’re a star :)
Alex@sydney seo´s last blog post ..Niche Site Challenge Part 001 The Method in my Madness

Gloson November 5, 2010 at 2:00 pm

Hi Alex,

Very nice upsell analogy and a neat method to make money! It’s amazing how supermarkets can teach you about making money online! :)

Placing frequently-bought products next to each other; that’s what Amazon does too! They have a “Customers Who Bought This Item Also Bought” section! =)

Gloson´s last blog post ..My Entry for the Awesome BlogEngage Contest

Alex November 7, 2010 at 11:06 am

Hey Gloson!

Well pointed out about Amazon brother, That’s exactly what they do – and another reason why I love their affiliate program!
Thanks for the support little dude!
Alex@sydney seo´s last blog post ..Niche Site Challenge Part 001 The Method in my Madness

Rick Byrd November 5, 2010 at 2:42 pm


Loved the story telling.

I never understood why someone would use contextual ads on their website unless the ads were on an autoblog.

I have seen many start-up blogs automatically ad Google Adsense to their blog to try and monetize it right away. This can be a huge mistake and drive people away from their blog instead of encouraging them to stay and comment on the blog and build relationships.

Why let “the big one” get away on contextual ads when you can land them on your subscriber list?

It seems that product placement is important as well. So sprinkling relevant affiliate links in some of your blog posts would be the same concept.

Have fun!

- Rick
Rick Byrd @ MarketingWithRick.com´s last blog post ..DO NOT MISS this webinar

Nurul Azis November 5, 2010 at 6:55 pm

This one is good :-) One time I went to fries and happy to get some recipes cards and start to get the inggridients then I was more than happy to realize I can cook a good food in my apartment :-) Just a consument point of view :-D

Patricia November 5, 2010 at 9:30 pm

I think your point is a good one. Your analogy, however, is a little overworked for my taste.
Patricia´s last blog post ..REVIEW- Keyword Winner- WP Plug-in

Alex November 7, 2010 at 11:07 am

Haha, but you didn’t even taste the salad?
I’m sure the prawns were cooked to perfection. Maybe the mango was a little too ripe?

Oh well, you win some you lose some ;)
Thanks for the comments Patricia
Alex@sydney seo´s last blog post ..Niche Site Challenge Part 001 The Method in my Madness

Paul Webing November 6, 2010 at 10:37 am

Hey Alex.

Thanks for this. There is no question about why Google is so successful. Let’s get traffic from others for peanuts!

You better keep the peanuts, make peanut butter and sell it by yourself ;)

Alex November 7, 2010 at 11:12 am

hahaha I like that last line Paul,

Reminds of the story of the mouse who was stuck in a barrel of milk and instead of drowning chose to fight and fight, until he churned that milk into butter and crawled out :)

Thanks for reminding me of that story, I love it!
Alex@sydney seo´s last blog post ..Niche Site Challenge Part 001 The Method in my Madness

Jason November 9, 2010 at 6:22 am

*Slinks away in shame to delete all contextual ads….* …and now I’m hungry.

Great post, Alex.
Jason@Passive Income Strategies´s last blog post ..Article Spinning- The Bane of the Literate Web

Ryah Albatros | Information Junkies Are Go! November 9, 2010 at 7:02 am

You know, your analogy is brilliantly simple and makes the practice of contextual ads look silly. I’ve never used them myself, but I can take away the reminders that a) I should control where I send my readers and b) that wherever I do send them should be of high quality.

Thanks for the eyeopener!

Brenda Svoboda November 9, 2010 at 12:29 pm

Being a food professional, I can relate to this analogy. I’ve never been a fan of adsense anyway because I always viewed it as a cheap distraction. Your post proves that storytelling works. Not every message has to be straight up IM-speak.

Eat well, my friends.

Dennis Edell November 9, 2010 at 1:23 pm

I just found me a new best friend. Woot!

Adsense is bad enough. It’s the thing that won’t die, and we’re all used to it getting in the way.

Now this info-link/kontera/Chitika garbage has caused me to unsubscribe from more then a few blogs. ;-)
Dennis Edell @ Direct Sales Marketing´s last blog post ..What’s Your Email Preference- HTML – HTML w-Template – or Plain Text

Alex November 9, 2010 at 1:40 pm

Azar!! My first commented ‘Woot’

awlrigh…. (Giggidy)
I hear you mate. Funny thing is – if you actually stop and think about it, who in the IM niche is ever going to click on an adsense ad?! Yet this is where we all are. what the!?

Awesome comment Dennis, thanks for the support brother
Alex@sydney seo´s last blog post ..A Blogger’s 6 Biggest Time Wasters

Dennis Edell November 9, 2010 at 10:46 pm

I’ll click an exact matching adsense ad to something on my mind, assuming I also have a spare minute at that exact time…..few and far between brother. ;)

The three I mentioned and other like it are useless and annoying for multiple reasons; NEVER a match + not internal links which are actual useful…just two off the top of my head.
Dennis Edell @ Direct Sales Marketing´s last blog post ..Comment Contests Prize Update- A Unique Idea!

Richard November 9, 2010 at 4:06 pm

Hey Alex,
I’m rooting for you!
Richard´s last blog post ..The Top 5 Mistakes of Internet Business Start-Ups and How to Avoid Them

Pete November 9, 2010 at 9:29 pm

Never thought of it that way before – but Google do match offers quite well these days, but as you say you have no control over the quality of the offerings.

One thing I will say though is that most online surfers have very short attention spans so someone at your blog, clicking onto an ad, being taken to that site will more often than not forget how they got there.

I would have thought regular readers will probably not click on your ads because they will have seen them already.

Thats my 2 pennies………
Pete´s last blog post ..My First Ever Video Attempt – Setting Up A WordPress Blog

Dennis Edell November 9, 2010 at 10:48 pm

OK then, the Twitter tweet button floating on the left will not allow me to tweet the same post twice??

I used the button up top this time. ;-)
Dennis Edell @ Direct Sales Marketing´s last blog post ..Do You Always Make Yout Posts Purpose Crystal Clear

Matthew Needham November 10, 2010 at 11:05 pm

Brilliant and imaginative post Alex. I really like the analogy. Apple do the same thing. You buy an iPod. Then you buy an iPhone, then maybe an iPad, then a Mac Book and before you know where you are the whole of your living room is showing a logo of an apple with a bite (byte:-) ) taken out….
Matthew Needham´s last blog post ..Wednesday Wisdom- 8 Stories To Grow Your Business

Kissie November 25, 2010 at 2:19 pm

It makes sense to me, especially since I make no cents on my blog from ads. I’ve removed all ads from my site because I hadn’t learned all I think I need to know about the benefits. Well, until now … that is. ;-)

Looks like it’s time to check more into affiliate marketing.
Kissie´s last blog post ..My Favorite Movie Contest and Winner

Rick LaPoint December 1, 2010 at 8:09 pm

Hey Alex,

You just talked me into creating a Mango Niche!

I never liked the idea of others putting me into their context, although Patricia just told me she’s put me into a box.

I have always believed in controlling absolutely everything you possibly can if the project has your name on it. And my view about ANY advertising is that if it isn’t earning enough to pull its weight on your site, remove the clutter.

Contrats on winning this Contest, mate.

Rick LaPoint @ Internet Marketing´s last blog post ..The Logic of Emotional Motivators

Ski December 8, 2010 at 7:29 pm

I always think that when it comes to contextual ads. I think the immediate thought is to stick some in and try and make a few quid – almost jut to pay for the site’s upkeep etc. – but in the long run, there’s more to be made from affiliate links so I guess it depends on the blog’s content and how you’re trying to play it.

Previous post:

Next post: